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Ezra Klein: December 20, 2009 - December 26, 2009

Fixing the filibuster: An interview with Sen. Jeff Merkley

Jeff Merkley was elected to the United States Senate in 2008. Previously, he served as speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives. In recent interviews, you've called the Senate a "dysfunctional" institution and argued that better outcomes will be...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 26, 2009; 12:29 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (13)
Categories:  Interviews , Senate  
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How the filibuster increases cynicism: An interview with Andy Stern

Andy Stern is president of the Service Employees International Union. You've recently begun talking about the problem of the Senate when you talk about the problems facing health-care reform. A lot of people in the debate seem to have made...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 26, 2009; 12:16 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Interviews , Senate  
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End the filibuster! An interview with Sen. Tom Harkin

Sen. Tom Harkin has served in the Senate since 1984, and currently chairs the influential Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. Before coming to the Senate, he served in the House of Representatives from 1975 to 1984. Health-care reform has,...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 26, 2009; 11:36 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Interviews , Senate  
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The rise of the filibuster: An interview with Barbara Sinclair

Barbara Sinclair is a political scientist at UCLA who specializes in Congress. She's also one of relatively few scholars to have quantified the rise in the filibuster over the previous few decades. You've published a study showing that about eight...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 26, 2009; 11:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Interviews , Senate  
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After health-care reform, Senate reform

This column appears on the cover of Sunday's Outlook section. On Dec. 8, 1964, Mike Manatos wrote a letter that explains what's wrong with the Senate in 2009. This wasn't, of course, the subject of his letter. Manatos was...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 26, 2009; 10:59 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
Categories:  Articles , Senate  
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Vacation's all I ever wanted

Or at least a long weekend. Barring unexpected events, I'll be back Monday. In the meantime, though, I'll be using the Twitter machine, which I encourage you to follow. I'm funnier there anyway....

By Ezra Klein  |  December 24, 2009; 11:50 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (9)
 
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Winning ugly, but winning

On Dec. 24, in an early morning vote, the United States Senate passed health-care reform. It was the first time the body had been in session on Christmas Eve since 1963. That's fitting, as it's arguably the most important...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 24, 2009; 7:50 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (83)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Obama: Republican filibustering 'unheard of'

And the concerns over the filibuster march on. In the past few weeks, we've heard from Andy Stern, Paul Krugman, Sen. Jeff Merkley, and Sen. Tom Harkin on the difficulty the Senate has functioning now that it's subject to...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 24, 2009; 6:31 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
Categories:  Senate  
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Tab dump

1) Chris Hayes goes to China. 2) Things you should know about a person you should know about. 3) A summary of Copenhagen. 4) Berkshire's repellent shareholders. 5) Fallows on the filibuster. Recipe of the day: How to make 2...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 23, 2009; 7:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Conference vs. Ping-Pong

Barring any last-minute surprises, health-care reform will pass the Senate early tomorrow morning. But as much as this feels like the end of the road, it isn't. The House and the Senate still need to settle the substantial differences between...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 23, 2009; 6:41 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Letters to health-care Santa: Federal exchanges

Over the course of this week, I've asked health-care experts what they'd like Santa to add to the bill during conference committee, and publishing their responses on the blog. The final entry comes from Sara Rosenbaum, chair of the Department...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 23, 2009; 6:27 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Letters to health-care Santa: More payment reform in Medicare

Over the course of this week, I'll be asking some health-care experts what they'd like Santa to add to the bill during conference committee, and publishing their responses on the blog. This missive is from Gail Wilensky, who chaired MedPAC...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 23, 2009; 6:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Letters to health-care Santa: More affordability, please

Over the course of this week, I'll be asking some health-care experts what they'd like Santa to add to the bill during conference committee, and publishing their responses on the blog. Joining us now is Andy Stern, president of SEIU,...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 23, 2009; 4:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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The media's Sarah Palin problem -- and ours

Dave Weigel writes the smartest thing I've read about the Sarah Palin phenomenon in some time. The problem is that Palin has put the political press in a submissive position, one in which the only information it prints about her...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 23, 2009; 3:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (32)
Categories:  Journalism  
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Letters to health-care Santa: Free our data!

Over the course of this week, I'll be asking some health-care experts what they'd like Santa to add to the bill during conference committee, and publishing their responses on the blog. Our next contestant is Matthew Holt, health-care research, forecaster,...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 23, 2009; 3:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Why I support the excise tax

R.J. Eskow wants me to write a lot more about the excise tax, and in particular about the claims of its opponents, and wonders why I haven't been. It's probably useful to answer the meta-question as well as the policy...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 23, 2009; 2:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Life after the first year

Chris Cillizza has a good piece busting five myths about the president's first year in office. On the other hand, this does seem like the sort of thing it would've been better to hand the Obama administration before the first...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 23, 2009; 1:56 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Letters to health-care Santa: The disabled have waited long enough

Over the course of this week, I'll be asking some health-care experts what they'd like Santa to add to the bill during conference committee, and publishing their responses on the blog. So please welcome Harold Pollack, the Helen Ross Professor...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 23, 2009; 1:23 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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How long can you go without solving your problems?

A lot of people attach all sorts of happy adjectives to the word "pragmatic." There are pragmatic progressives and pragmatic idealists and assorted other pragmatists with a bounce in their step and a song on their lips. Not me. I'm...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 23, 2009; 1:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
 
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Lunch break

Christmas week continues with Bing Crosby and David Bowie teaming up for a holiday duet....

By Ezra Klein  |  December 23, 2009; 12:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Yes, Obama did campaign on the public option

Oy. I'll defend the argument that the health-care bill that looks likely to pass is structurally similar to the health-care proposal released by the Obama campaign. But it's impossible to defend Obama's statement that "I didn't campaign on the...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 23, 2009; 11:34 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (40)
 
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Letters to health-care Santa: Let Ron Wyden fix the exchanges!

Over the course of this week, I'll be asking some health-care experts what they'd like Santa to add to the bill during conference committee, and publishing their responses on the blog. Our next payer is Victor Fuchs, the Henry J....

By Ezra Klein  |  December 23, 2009; 11:31 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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In praise of the Nelson deal

Ben Nelson is getting a lot of blowback for the deal he struck exempting Nebraska from paying for its Medicaid expansion. But though it was his deal, it wasn't his preference. It was Harry Reid's. And Reid made the...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 23, 2009; 10:36 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Letters to health-care Santa: Better insurance, please

Over the course of this week, I'll be asking some health-care experts what they'd like Santa to add to the bill during conference committee, and publishing their responses on the blog. Now we turn to Jon Gruber, a professor of...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 23, 2009; 10:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Poverty is multiracial

People should read this post by Ta-Nehisi Coates....

By Ezra Klein  |  December 23, 2009; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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And the Californiacation of America continues

Unnoticed amidst the health-care hubbub, Congress is going to have to act to raise the debt ceiling pretty soon. Keith Hennessey has a good guide for what to expect. As he says, some senator, or some group of senators, always...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 23, 2009; 8:33 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (19)
Categories:  Budget , California  
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Letters to health-care Santa: Bring back the death panels!

Over the course of this week, I'll be asking some health-care experts what they'd like Santa to add to the bill during conference committee, and publishing their responses on the blog. This edition comes by way of Henry Aaron, a...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 23, 2009; 7:05 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Tab dump

1) Cash for cloture. 2) Eugene Robinson's take on health-care reform. 3) Spencer Ackerman recalls visiting the Guantanamo Bay gift shop. 4) Lee Sigelman was prolific. 5) Mike Konczal's friends and relatives have increasingly nutty views on financial crises. Recipe...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 22, 2009; 6:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Max Baucus: The individual mandate is constitutional

One of the big right wing talking points of late has been that the individual mandate is not constitutional, because the constitution does not specifically say "the federal government may impose an individual mandate for the purposes of insuring all...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 22, 2009; 6:29 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
 
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Letters to health-care Santa: Competition for care, not just insurance

Over the course of this week, I'll be asking some health-care experts what they'd like Santa to add to the bill during conference committee, and publishing their responses on the blog. Next up is George Halvorson, chairman and chief executive...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 22, 2009; 5:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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It was the day before Christmas and all through the Senate ...

Ending what some Senate wags were calling "the war between Glenn Beck and the Republican spouses," the health-care reform vote has been scheduled for 8am on the 24th. That's near enough to Christmas that the Senate gets credit for working...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 22, 2009; 4:56 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Can the stock market predict health-care reform?

The graph above tracks the stock prices of Aetna, Wellpoint and United Healthcare Group over the past five years. Those three companies were chosen because they're large insurers with different business models (Wellpoint focuses more on the individual market...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 22, 2009; 4:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (11)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Letters to health-care Santa: Give private options some public power

Over the course of this week, I'll be asking some health-care experts what they'd like Santa to add to the bill during conference committee, and publishing their responses on the blog. In this post, Jacob Hacker, the Stanley B. Resor...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 22, 2009; 2:26 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Sad news

Lee Sigelman, a political scientist at George Washington and a blogger at the Monkey Cage, has died. Saying "I was a big fan of his writing" isn't the same as saying I knew him, but I read about the reinterpreted...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 22, 2009; 1:32 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Conservatives to Griffith: We're still coming for you

If any other vulnerable Democrats were thinking of following Rep. Parker Griffith's example and switching over to the Republican side, they'll probably think again after Griffith's reception today. Both Red State and the Club for Growth have greeted him with...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 22, 2009; 1:23 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  2010 Midterms  
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Letters to health-care Santa: Bring the market to Medicare Advantage, and the House's employer mandate to the final bill

Over the course of this week, I'll be asking some health-care experts what they'd like Santa to add to the bill during conference committee, and publishing their responses on the blog. This installment features Austin Frakt, a health economist with...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 22, 2009; 1:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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The funniest sentence I've read today

"On the positive side they are aware the problem is complex." Context here....

By Ezra Klein  |  December 22, 2009; 12:51 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
 
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Lunch break

Christmas music week continues with the Muppets and John Denver....

By Ezra Klein  |  December 22, 2009; 12:31 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Rep. Parker Griffith switches sides

In substantive terms, I'm not particularly surprised that Rep. Parker Griffith, a freshman Democrat from Alabama, is joining the Republicans. Barack Obama got 37 percent in Griffith's district, and Griffith himself voted against the budget, the stimulus, cap and trade,...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 22, 2009; 12:10 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (41)
 
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Last quarter not as grow-y as we thought

Bad news: "The Commerce Department’s final estimate showed gross domestic product grew at a 2.2 percent annual rate instead of the 2.8 percent pace it reported last month. Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast the report to show GDP, which...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 22, 2009; 11:44 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Economy  
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Letters to health-care Santa: Tax cookies, or at least soda

Over the course of this week, I'll be asking some health-care experts what they'd like Santa to add to the bill during conference committee and publishing their responses on the blog. This edition features David Cutler, the Otto Eckstein Professor...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 22, 2009; 11:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Size matters

Harold Pollack does the math: By 2019 when the reforms are fully implemented, the Senate bill would provide about $196 billion per year down the income scale in subsidies to low-income and working Americans. Even policy wonks have trouble...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 22, 2009; 10:42 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Charts and Graphs , Health Reform  
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Letters to health-care Santa: Fix the exchanges!

Over the course of this week, I'll be asking some health-care experts what they'd like Santa to add to the bill during conference committee and publishing their responses on the blog. Next up is Alain Enthoven, the Marriner S. Eccles...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 22, 2009; 10:39 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Health-care handouts

Via Andrew Sullivan, Adam Ozimek is concerned by some of the giveaways in the health-care bill: The problem with these handouts is that they are going to generate even less complaints than defense handouts do, because it’s a lot harder...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 22, 2009; 10:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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Encouraging organ donation

Alex Tabarrok notes an interesting program on organ donation coming out of Israel: In January, Israel will become the first country in the world to give people who sign their organ donor cards points pushing them up the transplant list...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 22, 2009; 9:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
 
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A tale of two compromises

For all the flak Ben Nelson gets, the process of pulling him onto the bill was a lot more straightforward than what Joe Lieberman required. Nelson, for better or worse, compromised. He didn't want a public option but was...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 22, 2009; 9:06 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (14)
 
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Letters to health-care Santa: Nationalize the exchanges!

Over the course of this week, I'll be asking some health-care experts what they'd like Santa to add to the bill during conference committee, and publishing their responses on the blog. First up is Diane Archer, the director of the...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 22, 2009; 8:12 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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The fallible Federal Reserve

Binyamin Appelbaum and David Cho have a readable, devastating look at the analytical mistakes that led to the Federal Reserve's costly failure to prevent, or even foresee, the financial crisis. Felix Salmon counts at least a dozen different conceptual errors...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 22, 2009; 7:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  Federal Reserve  
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Tab dump

1) James Cameron seems like a difficult human being. 2) My point wasn't that people shouldn't be mad about health-care reform because the final product is fairly similar to what Obama campaigned on, but that the biggest compromises happened long...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 21, 2009; 6:05 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
 
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A picture is worth a thousand blog posts

And Igor Volsky has a picture:...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 21, 2009; 5:33 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (18)
 
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Mailbag: The Social Security theory

A reader e-mails: It might be helpful to compare this bill to the Social Security Act of 1935, which, when passed, had some really bad elements. Most significantly, the bill excluded domestic and agricultural workers, which meant a large number...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 21, 2009; 5:02 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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The inside game

I'm not of the camp that believes Barack Obama could have gotten Joe Lieberman to vote for a public option. Lieberman has the 60th vote in the Senate and Obama has nothing, really, that Lieberman wants. Being chairman of the...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 21, 2009; 4:39 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (12)
 
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What Obama did, and didn't do, on health-care reform

Mark Schmitt is tired of reading columns about how Obama should have done this or that differently. Those things may be true, he says, but they are also, quite frequently, a cop-out: The work underlying the current health-reform effort...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 21, 2009; 4:36 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Jane Hamsher's 10 reasons to kill the bill

I've gotten a lot of requests to respond to Jane Hamsher's list of 10 reasons to kill the Senate bill. At this point, I'm not sure there's much in the way of productive dialogue to be had here. Some of...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 21, 2009; 3:29 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (58)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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The mandate and backlash

Long ago, I'd predicted that if the GOP ever finished off the public option, they'd come at the individual mandate next. To my surprise, it's been some on the left who've launched an attack on the individual mandate. Indeed, last...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 21, 2009; 1:17 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (32)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Lunch break

This week, lunch break will feature some of my favorite Christmas music. And given the weather in the District today, Ray Charles and Betty Carter signing “Baby, It's Cold Outside” is the only plausible choice. Ray Charles & Betty Carter...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 21, 2009; 12:15 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
 
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The lessons of the Netherlands

An Economist blogger writes: Americans are still not used to the way universal health-insurance systems work ... I remember what it felt like to move to the Netherlands and be told that I would have to buy health insurance, or...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 21, 2009; 12:10 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (10)
 
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The most important table you'll read today

You probably can't read the table atop this post. Click on it, it'll get bigger. It's the work of Jon Cohn and MIT's Jon Gruber, and it shows what health-care reform will mean for families at different levels of...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 21, 2009; 11:36 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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The cruel Senate

The Senate is very proud of its reputation as a collegial and decorous institution. At this point in the chamber's history, though, that reputation largely obscures a vicious and cruel operational reality. Take Ted Kennedy, for instance. He spent a...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 21, 2009; 11:15 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (33)
Categories:  Senate  
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The amazing disappearing bill

There's a lot of talk over whether the health-care bill should begin before 2014, and whether the long delay will give the GOP sufficient time to foment a backlash. On the one hand, the bill should certainly begin before 2014....

By Ezra Klein  |  December 21, 2009; 10:48 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (16)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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Jon Kingsdale reflects on three years of health-care reform

As executive director of the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority, Jon Kingsdale has more responsibility for the implementation of the Massachusetts health-care reforms than arguably anyone else in the state. And since the basic structure of the Massachusetts plan is...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 21, 2009; 10:37 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
 
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Godfather of the public option: Pass the Senate bill

Jacob Hacker, who's often called "the Godfather of the public option," weighs in on the Senate bill: Since the first campaign for publicly guaranteed health insurance in the early twentieth century, opportunities for serious health reform have come only rarely...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 21, 2009; 9:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
 
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Remembering Obama's campaign health-care plan

"Though the American left and right don't agree on much," wrote Frank Rich over the weekend, "they are both now coalescing around the suspicion that Obama's brilliant presidential campaign was as hollow as Tiger's public image." It's hard to imagine...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 21, 2009; 9:14 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (25)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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The Senate begins to pass health-care reform

On Monday morning, at 1:17 a.m., the Senate voted to break the filibuster on the manager's amendment to the health-care reform bill. This wasn't the final vote on the bill. It wasn't even the final vote on the manager's...

By Ezra Klein  |  December 21, 2009; 1:12 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (17)
Categories:  Health Reform  
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